Sunday, January 28, 2024

Time, and How it Flies

 38 years ago, the space shuttle Challenger exploded off the coast of Florida.

It was a snow day, in my little town in Tennessee.  My mother, who was a teacher, took my me with my sister to my sister's regular babysitter.  I'm not sure if my Mom went to school anyway to get work done, or just wanted a house without kids in it.  But I was at the house of a lady named Eleanor, and I was 8 years old, and obsessed with the space program.  The obsession was even stronger, since we'd had classroom material about Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who was going into space.  

I'm 46 now (almost 47!) and not nearly as obsessed with the Space Program as once I was.  But it's one of those moments and days I'll always remember.  Sitting in the den of Eleanor's home, even after the younger kids had been put down for a nap, watching the news unfold over the course of the day....

That might have been my first dealing with media saturation.  Or fatigue.  I remember going home and being somewhat aggravated that it was still the only thing on the television, and lamenting thus to my mother, who suggested going to read a book.  This being, of course, the days when we had only 4 channels, and I think the Challenger disaster predates my family's getting a VCR by a year or two.  


I'm writing.  Or trying to.....

Saturday, January 06, 2024


 That's a good deal.....

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

2023 Reading Roundup

Back in November, I'd said I wanted to blog more. Truth be told it's a low bar since I had, what, 7 posts last year?  

2023 began with a real punch in the gut, and a pretty big life change.  Still dealing with it I guess.  The quiet times were harder.  Sometimes I didn't have an attention span to read.  Then, Mom had a stroke in September, and working with that ate in to some of that spare time.  Still, got a little bit of reading done this year:


Light in August    by William Faulkner.

I've always listed Faulkner as a favorite, but I just hadn't read anything of his in four or five years.  Pulled this one off the shelf.  Originally read as part of Dr. Kerrick's American Lit (or perhaps his Southern Lit) class.  This one's brutal.  And oddly funny.  Calling something "the most human" of somebody's work isn't a great descriptor, but this one seems the largest and most complete examination of humanity, in Faulkner's world.  It's a favorite.  

Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing    by Stephen King

A companion piece to On Writing which I read in late 2022, it was a Book of the Month Club selection way back when.  Part of the continuing project.  Mostly a collection of forewords with a couple of essays and articles thrown in.  On its own, it's not much special, but I do like it as a companion piece.....

Bullet Train  by Kitaro Isaka

The novel on which the Brad Pitt flick (which I liked rather a lot) is based.  More philosophical, and definitely less Looney Tunes than the film adaptation, I kinda liked it.

The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command   by Edwin Coddington

This came from the library of my late friend Kevin Britton.  Kevin passed a year ago (give or take a day) in a motorcycle accident.  He, our friend Eric and I had gotten together only a week prior at a Tennessee Smokies baseball game.  Late in the year, Eric gave me came from Kevin's library.  It was fitting, because it seemed like Kevin and I would trade books once a year, and end up reading a couple more based on the recommendations of the other.

As for the book, it's dry, but fascinating.  A strong look at the political and pragmatic pressures on all bodies involved with directing the battle.....


K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches   by Tyler Kepner

I dug this one.  I learned a bit, which is impressive, considering that I think I know everything about baseball.....

Glitches and Stiches   by Nicole Givens Kurtz

A bit of Cybernoir.  A gift from my buddy Dino.  Cyberpunk, in general, isn't my cup of tea, but this one was grounded enough as a noir-ish police procedural that I blew through it in a couple days.  Big props to Kurtz for her depiction of Anxiety in the workplace.

True Grit  by Charles Portis

Another re-read.  It's turned into an annual re-read, for me.  I first read this back in the 80' Great Aunt Mae gave me a box of books that had been sitting in a closet at her house.  There were a lot of 60's and 70's TV and film adaptations, along with a handful of James Blish's Star Trek Readers, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, and a copy of True Grit.  I read it, but in all honesty, it didn't leave a huge impression, except for a couple of images (Rooster Cogburn kicking the boys off the porch for taunting a mule; and the finger chopping scene, both of which matched up very well with the Coens' depiction in their film adaptation).  It's absolutely a helluva read.  Highly recommended.

Number One Walking    by Steve Martin and Harry Bliss

A Christmas gift from my mom, it's a graphic novelesque look at his career, mostly after Standup.....


Get Ready: A Champion's Guide to Preparing for the Moments That Matter  by Buzzy Cohen

Buzzy's book had popped up in a couple places, but I decided to listen to it after hearing him talk about it on the Jeopardy podcast.  Not a bad listen, and not as Jeopardy-centric as I'd thought going in.  Good primer in prepwork, especially valuable for those not used to it.  I like to think of it as a bit of a Type A Primer for Type B personalities.

The Grand Scheme of Things by Ian Strang

I've followed this guy on Twitter for a while, and he's a funny cat.  Picked up his book, which I enjoyed.  It was  bit long, but on the whole, I dug it.

The Stand  by Stephen King

I've been doing a chronological read-through of King's work, and I'd not wanted to double back, but for some reason, The Stand has a way of pulling me out of a funk.  Add to that, I'm not a great fan of the stuff that King first put out after his van accident, so I jumped into this one.  Thoughts this time around?  Franny sure gets the short end of the stick in the last 1/3 of the novel....she's largely the heart of the book, if not its conscience.  She's relegated to backup character by the time Stu and company wander out to Las Vegas.....

Wait for Signs  by Craig Johnson

A collection of short stories surrounding Walt Longmire.  Shyam made this one our route listen.


The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud

I think it's my favorite thing I've read this year.  A bit of True Grit meets The Martian Chronicles, run through Ballingrud's Weird Horror filter.  I give this one a high recommendation.

The Cruellest Month    by Louise Penny

Another series Shyam has gotten me into.  I don't know why I keep coming back to the Inspector Gameche books, but there's something affirmative in Gameche's kind nature.

Bone in the Throat    by Anthony Bourdain

It's not bad, but it can't seem to find a balance that it's comfortable with between humor and gravity.  In my head, I'd cast Brad Garrett as Tommy's Uncle, using his Jimmy John's commercial persona.  His final outcome was great.....

Hell's Angels: a Strange and Terrible Saga    by Hunter S. Thompson

I've had this on my shelf for 25 years, buying it during my initial HST phase.  I read 6 or 7 of Thompson's books in that wave, but not this one, for some reason.  Pulled it off the shelf and read it.  Not bad.  It's probably Thompson at his most journalistic, though he admits that he didn't know if it were researching or slowly getting absorbed during his travels. 

The Donut Legion   by Joe R. Lansdale

Without meaning it to, this became my doctor waiting room book.  Between visits for myself and my Mom, I read this in four different appointment sittings.  Good southern-fried romp from Joe.  Doesn't set the world on fire...well, except for one plot point.....


Dreamcatcher    by Stephen King

Part of the continuing project.   I didn't care for this one when it came out, and I cared for it less the second time around, in 2023.  

It's not bad, necessarily, so much as it feels like two or three novel ideas welded together.  Part of me always wondered if the genesis of the idea didn't come in the 70's or 80's, when a sort of constant background antagonist were the government agents employed at "The Shop."

I will note that this was written largely during his recuperation from that van accident.....

Shoeless Joe    by WP Kinsella

Another re-read.  I'd actually picked up a copy for my nephew, and I decided to re-read it so I could check for objectionable material that I might have forgotten (there isn't much, aside from some sadly casual racism).  The Field of Dreams adaptation is superior, but it does lose some of the Magic Quest feel that Ray's journey to pick up JD Salinger and Moonlight Graham takes.....

Found: an Anthology of Found Footage Horror Stories   edited by Andrew Cull & Gabino Iglesias

A Kindle read.  Read a story every few days for a couple months.  It's a bit of a mixed bag.  Too many "transcripts" as a plot device.  "Green Magnetic Tape" is pretty effective....and oddly, I liked Andrew Cull's intro to the collection very much.

Pigs  by Johanna Stoberock

An Audible listen.  Stoberock appeared on Jeopardy and mentioned her book.  An odd, dark fairy tale of a novel....Stoberock turns a good phrase.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

A fun read....we listened to this one while going over the mountains to North Carolina for a delivery.


Ball Four    by Jim Bouton

Another one that I'd picked up for my nephew.  Another one re-reading to check for objectionable content....maybe there is some, but I read this when I was 12, so I'm pretty sure he can handle locker-room talk.  

There is no better book written from inside the game of baseball.

Bouton is candid about himself, serious and self-deprecating, in his chances in playing for the 1969 expansion Seattle Pilots, and later, the contending Houston Astros.

There aren't many times I'll recommend listening to the audiobook before I would reading the work itself, but this is one of them.  Bouton's rendition of his work is astounding, from getting tickled remembering stories from the season, to getting heartbroken recounting the death of his daughter in a traffic accident in one of the 10-year updates.

Harold by Steven Wright

Steven Wright's non-sequitur ode to daydreaming in school.

Harold is a third-grader, and this novel recounts his daydream one afternoon in the late 1960's.....the timeframe is wobbly, occasionally referencing things much later.  Our narrator addresses such anachronisms simply:  mind your own business.

Hilarious, and occasionally angry.  I was touched a couple of times.  In many ways, I was Harold.  In some, I still am.

She Rides Shotgun   by Jordan Harper

The route listen.   Well put together.

Lock-In   by John Scalzi

A romp.   I'm hit or miss on Scalzi, to be honest.  I love his SF, but occasionally the geek humor will start grating on me (Red Shirts is one that Everybody seems to love, but I've tried it a couple of times and not gotten through it).  This one was fun, though.  Interesting premise.  Decent enough mystery.  I kinda liked it.


Black House  by Stephen King & Peter Straub

Continuing the project.  I remember liking this one a lot at its initial publication, perhaps even more than The Talisman, which had long been a sentimental favorite, and which didn't hold up as well for me with the re-read.  Written with Straub while King recovered from his van accident, I'd forgotten just how much legwork this one does laying down some roads for the Dark Tower to travel in its final 3 books.  I'll say that it's a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it this time around, but you definitely feel Straub's hand on the pen a bit more strongly than you do with The Talisman.  Which isn't a bad thing.  Just an observation.

As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson

The work listen.  Shyam introduced me to the Longmire books.  I like the way Johnson turns a phrase. This one follows up a couple of the stronger entries in the series, so far.  It's a step back in terms of pace, but damn does it get funny sometimes.  

Corrections in Ink by Keri Blakinger

I've followed Blakinger on the Twitter for a while.  Her advocacy for Prisoners has led me down a wormhole that's had me send boxes of books to various prison book projects around the country.  This is her story memoir of falling into drug abuse out of a promising skating career.  She goes to prison on drug charges, and works to climb her way out.  Her advocacy grew out of the fact that not everybody she came into contact with during her imprisonment has the ability, means and opportunity to do so.  I liked this book very much. 

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones is probably my favorite writer I've run across in the past several years.  Mongrels and Only Good Indians are two of my favorite books from him, that I've run across.  This one is the second book in a planned trilogy.  The first:  My Heart is a Chainsaw, was fun, but didn't really hit the nail on the head for me.  I'm a horror fan, but for some reason, the slasher flicks and the last-girl mythlogy never really did a lot for me. Maybe it was my mood, or maybe Reaper hits the right gear, because this book hits the ground running at lunatic speed and never slows down.  I had as much fun with this book as I did with anything this year.  Lots of fun.

Breakfast of Champions   by Kurt Vonnegut

My initial Vonnegut rush came somewhere around 1997 or 1998.  I read Slaughterhouse Five for a class.   I found five or six of his then at the Goodwill, and blew through them in the space of a few months.  I have managed almost all of his work since then, but Breakfast was a straggler (along with Deadeye Dick) for his novels.  

While it's not my favorite (Slaughterhouse and Slapstick still top the list), it's still heavy with the surreal cynicism that I dig, but still imbued with a mild, self-deprecatingly dopey optimism that I appreciate, and find more familiar than I'm comfortable admitting.


The Beast You Are   by Paul Tremblay

A collection from Tremblay, who scratches that weird horror itch nicely.  And while it's kinda hit or miss (Most short story collections are), I still found myself appreciating Tremblay's poking fun at his own ambiguous horror history, and his willingness to stretch his legs a bit, and to color outside the lines.....

Demon Copperhead   by Barbara Kingsolver

Lent to me by my Mom.  I'd read 2 or 3 of Kingsolver's a few years back.  Both sides of my family have roots in Appalachia, in areas screwed over by mining and timber companies.  This one has a lot of that same background.  And it ended up having a lot of stops and starts for me, because there were several instances where Demon was somebody I knew, or could have known.  Was going through things that kids I went to school with went through.  There were a couple of things that tugged at me, bugged me as I read, that maybe shouldn't have (Tommy Acuff, oversensitive Southern guy here).  Little liberties with geography that muddle just how long it takes to travel in the area....a different view of Knoxville as an Urban Center (that wasn't incorrect, necessarily, but it took a few pages for me to reconcile).  Part of me stepped lightly around Demon have a magical talent (again, I had to remind myself that there are scores of folks who don't have talent recognizes or developed because means and opportunity weren't there.....

Secret Stories of Walt Disney World    by Jim Korkis

Jim Korkis was a pretty regular guest on a couple of podcasts I listen to.  He's probably written more about the Disney Parks than anybody.  He passed in late July.  I'd had this one floating around my e-library for a while.  It's written in bites, which was perfect, as I was spending a fair amount of time in and out of doctors' offices for mom in August....

Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas and the Start of a New Nation  by David Price

Man.  David Price loves him some John Smith.

I guess that's where the love comes in.  

Strong read, actually.  Flows well, with lots of good info and context for the rest of the world.  The small miracle that the colony survived at all, given the ineptitude of management in the venture, combined with the uneven relations with the Natives, over the course of several years, especially after Smith was shipped back to England with injuries.

That said...I think Price would trade a Kidney to go back in time to hug John Smith

Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

Continuing Project.  It was the first real backtrack I had to make...somehow, in late 2022, I skipped over this one in my rush to get to On Writing, I think.  

The two novellas that make up about 2/3 of this volume are, in a word, beautiful.  

One of King's biggest strengths is is ability to remember and repaint the thrills, the wonders, the insecurities and vulnerabilities of childhood without too many of life's filters getting in the way in the ensuing decades.  Bobby Garfield's story of forging a friendship with the mysterious upstairs neighbor Ted Brautigan is a helluva dark romp through the summer of 1960.

The second novella, the titular story of the collection, might be one of King's best.  It's certainly, of all he's written in the past couple of decades, the one that's popped to my mind most.  It strikes me as highly autobiographical, for King.  And it reminds me a lot of my Dad.  It is the tale of a first year college student who navigates love, the 60s and a neverending game of Hearts in his dormitory.  I read this story, this time around, and thought about my Dad a lot, who went to college not long after the story's setting of 1966.

To underline that, when I pulled my copy off the shelf, I found an old boarding pass for a flight from Knoxville to Denver tucked under the dust jacket around the back cover.  It would have been my Dad's from a work trip.  

The final three stories....well, 2 stories and a Coda of sorts for the whole intertwined volume, all worked to please me very much.  This is King at his most Altmanesque.  I've always liked King's small town work, where people's live intertwine.  This one is a similar tapestry.

In this project, which began just after Dad died in 2017, I'm comparing a lot of my thoughts to those of a much younger dude.  I was literally just a kid when I read a lot of King's stuff.  There have been a handful of times that things just his differently.  But not like this one.  I read Hearts in Atlantis near its publication, which would have made me 22 or 23.  I'm 46 now, and have had another half my life lived.  The whole collection, but especially that second story, hits a whole helluva lot differently.  This may be my favorite re-discovery since I started the project.


James Madison by Garry Willis

James Madison was a fussbudget.  But, an idealistic fussbudget.

The book was dry as hell.  I can fight through a lot of dry stuff.  But this one took me a minute.

Everything's Eventual  by Stephen King

In this project, I've tried not to read two works too closely together, so as to preserve each book.  But, I actually started this one before Heart's in Atlantis, before realizing I'd missed that one.  Since I was a story and a half into it, I went ahead and just read this one.   I don't know if you'd call it underrated, but it kinda surprised me how solid it was.   My favorites this go around:  "The Man in the Black Suit," "All That You Love Will be Carried Away" and the surprisingly effective (and self-loathing) "Riding the Bullet."

A couple other things of note, and it's just kinda what I notice as I read through his work:  His mind keeps bringing a couple things forward:  The first is smoking....there's a lot of focus on characters quitting smoking, or relapsing, or wanting to relapse.  There are a couple instances of characters buying a pack of cigarettes, smoking one of them and then throwing the rest of the pack away.  There's also a bit of spousal drama:  fights, divorces, or just general bickering.  These two items, I wonder, if they go hand in hand with King's recuperation from his van accident...

Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino

Say what you will about QT, I do appreciate his enthusiasm.  Good essays about his early experiences with double bills in Los Angeles with his mom and stepdad, and with others later in life.  Had to mark a couple to watch Joe, which I found on Pluto, and The Getaway with Steve McQueen, which I found for a dollar at McKay's, only to get home to realize I'd already had a copy as part of a complilation with Bullitt and Papillon...

I listened to the audiobook of this one, and Quentin reads a couple chapters of it, which is fun for his machine gun enthusiastic delivery, but grating to the point of cringe when he emulates dialects.  I will say that the second section he reads is a note about family friend Floyd, who wrote the first screenplay Quentin read, and who instilled in him the desire to actually write a movie.

Lastly, he mentions having caught a few movies during his time living with his Grandmother, but some of what he did catch were at the now demolished South Clinton Drive-In, which I discovered after a search was just a couple miles from where I run my Friday Route.  It is now a housing development....

A Damn Near Perfect Game    by Joe Kelly with Rob Bradford

My mom suffered a stroke in early September, and she stayed in a rehab facility in Chattanooga for a few weeks as she recovered.  This is one of the ones I listened to as I drove back and forth.  

I like Joe Kelly the pitcher...I like how he attacks on the field.  I'm not sure how I feel about Kelly the person.  Sets himself up in opposition to the Commissioner's office, but marches pretty much in lockstep with much of the nonsense that the Commissioner has been spouting for years (Our Billion to Trillion Dollar Industry is in Danger of Dying!!!  The Game is Boring!!!  The Sky is Falling!!!!).  Neither Kelly nor the Commissioner can admit the the easiest way to make baseball accessible is, in part, to end the archaic media market/blackout rules.

The book is not without it's good thoughts, though.  Makes some good point about the culture of the game, both at the MLB level and the Youth level (in the latter, specifically that Travel Ball is a little bit of a scam, since so many parents are treating it as a lottery ticket).  I also enjoyed the section with ball players, managers and other personalities talking to Joe about why they love the game.

The Great Mortality by John Kelly

Cheerful reading with Mom in the Rehab hospital.  Kelly knows how to turn a good phrase, and even more importantly, preserve and share it when history provides a good turn of phrase itself.  Avignon have a scent like a mermaid with loose bowels is just the light turn of phrase I needed in late September.

 Fairy Films:  Wee Folk on the Big Screen  edited by Joshua Cutchin

Another that I read with Mom in hospital.  My buddy Dino picked this up for me during his travels.  Some essays are stronger than other, but I really enjoyed Simon Young's look at Disney through the years, and David Floyd's examination of Close Encounters.


Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Shyam picked this one to listen to.  It's enjoyable, but not as taut as the first book of his series....almost like the story got away from him a bit, and he had to hit the brakes hard to come to a close.  Not bad, but almost felt like it didn't go where Aaronovitch expected it to....

In the Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life   by Amy Schneider

Quick read.  Good read.  I actually enjoyed the FAQ popcorn format, as it underlines the ADD and focus issues she has dealt with.  Also touching were her talk of confidence issues and social anxiety.  Maybe a bit more frank than I'd been expecting, but that's on me, not her....

Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

I've had this one on the shelf for a while, and wanted to read it before I saw the flick (which, as of January 2, 2024, I still have not watched....going to movies was a little tough for a couple months this year).  I really enjoyed this one, the way it flowed.  Very readable.  Definitely will sit with more of Grann's in the future.  

the Mammoth Book of Folk Horror   edited by Stephen Jones

The Kindle Read.  For what seemed like months.  I'd pick a story here and there.  Like a lot of these anthologies, hit or miss.  The high points:  "Jenny Greenteeth" by Alison Littlewood, "Gravedirt Mouth" by Maura McHugh, and "The Devil's Piss Pot" by Jan Edwards

MCU:  the Reign of Marvel Studios   by Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales and Gavin Edwards

This one surprised me.  It's strong.  The business of collaborative creativity, and corporate creativity, is one of minor fascination of mine.  And, I'm a pretty big MCU fanboy.  Others may be experiencing superhero fatigue.  I just want them to feed me more.

It's a pretty even-handed overview, though it does follow the Feige lead in vilifying Edward Norton pretty quickly.  (There has always been a part of me that's wondered how the MCU might have looked if Feige & company had found away to play nice with Norton).

It's not a cheerleading work, though, putting egos like Robert Downey, Jr., on display, and the overall unfairness of some compensation packages.

I will always applaud any work that takes Ike Perlmutter to task, though.  Racist.  Sexist.  Elitist.   Dude nearly destroyed Marvel, and then ran point for turning comics into the speculative shit show that the 1990's were.  And going solely by the MCU, the shitshow that was Iron Man 2 and Thor: the Dark World can be laid largely at his feet.....

From a Buick 8    by Stephen King

I got it on sale on Audible and listened while I raked leaves, blew leaves and chopped leaves up into mulch at Mom's house.  Which was pretty much all I did in October.  I was thinking that this was a re-read, and then about halfway through the audiobook, it stopped being familiar.  I pulled my hard copy off the shelf, and sure enough, about 60% of the way through, I found my receipt from where I'd purchased it at the Books a Million in Murfreesboro, TN.

So, the novel is a bit of a mess, and you wonder if King's still trying to exorcise a demon, since a teenager's parent is killed after being run down by the town ne-er do well.

Still, I ended up liking it.  And I totally let myself get okeydoked for a minute at the end.....


Deadman's Road  by Joe R. Lansdale

Another one that I listened to while trying to clean up leaves at both my house and my mom's.  Ties together multiple stories that Lansdale wrote about the same character (though he does correct Reverend Mercer's name from another in their original publications....)

Very fun.  Nice B-Movie, weird horror vibe wrapped around western settings.  I dig it...

The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us   by Steve Brusatte

A follow-up to Bursatte's similar history of Dinosaurs, and it follows his own his own change in specialization in researching the mammal fossil record.  Follows mammals from surviving the asteroid strike that took the dinosaurs, to filling the niches once filled by those animals , to dominating ecosystems and eventually the planet.

An alternate title suggestion:  Jaws.  Also, Ears.  The development of such is what began to differentiate the precursors of mammals before placental birth and the name giving mammaries became a thing.

Coincidentally, Shyam and I finished The Fall of the House of Usher and Pym's statement about humanity being "a virus" popped into my head when Brusatte talked about the fall of Megafauna on the planet, and the decrease in competing fauna the Earth has experienced since Homo Sapiens took the wheel.

That all said, I find Brusatte to be an extremely approachable science writer, and takes a raconteur's approach to relating millions of years of history.  This was one of my favorite books I read this year.

Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke   by Eric LaRocca

Around Halloween, author Gabino Iglesias listed something like 100 horror recommendations.  I found this one cheap.  An epistolary novel, it fit my attention span for the fall, which was in Squirrel! mode most of the fall.  Two women's lives intertwine via e-mail.  And it goes downhill pretty quickly.

Heavy on alienation, a need for approval.  I don't think I've read a horror novel this soaked in melancholy since Stephen Graham Jones's Mongrels.  It's short, which is probably best, as I'm not sure the concept holds up in a much longer work.  This one gave me a lot of thought.  It made me sad.  It was great.

Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever  by Matt Singer

Maybe it's a little surprising, but I was never a big Siskel and Ebert viewer.  I mean, I saw it, from time to time, but it was very much at the mercy of whatever syndication schedule I was living near at the time.  I associate the show coming on Saturdays after cartooons, for a while, but I also distinctly remember it coming on the local ABC affiliate Sunday nights after the 11pm news.  Truth be told, it wasn't until college that I really started hunting down reviews and reviewers for flicks.  And even then, it ended up being in print.  Which is not to say I didn't see the show. 

Singer does a superlative job relating what the critic scene was like when Siskel and Ebert came into the scene, and how it changed, especially with their influence.  Gene Siskely left us too soon.  And I'd have been interested to see how the partnership would have held up in the years since we lost him.  I was very pleased with the details of Ebert's adaptation over the years....I liked the book a lot.


Dark Tower V: the Wolves of the Calla   by Stephen King

 Continuing project, blah blah blah.   I thought of the last 3 books of the Dark Tower series when I began my project.  I love the first four books of the series, and rather liked book 5.  But part of the appeal of the series was how different each volume felt.  Then, in a rush to finish the series, books 6 and 7 don't have a unique feeling....rather, they feel like continuations of book 5.  But, I digress.

Wolves is fun.  Definitely carries a nice Seven Samurai vibe, and I still dig bringing Father Callahan back as a character.  Definitely a fun read....

The Chalice War: Stone   by David B. Coe

My buddy Dino got me a copy of this.  I started it late in the summer, and then Mom had her health problems and my attention span for reading went to shit.  Then, I picked it up again in October, but misplaced my copy.  Eventually, it was found in the back seat of the car, where it had gotten left taking Mom to a medical appointment. 

I'm picky with my fantasy.  To the point that I might not actually like the genre, sometimes.  But, Coe's characterizations are solid, and the rules of the world are pragmatic.  It sucks you in, and when I finally sat down and gave it my full attention, I blew through it in a day and a half.  Good read.

A Christmas Carol   by Charles Dickens

Annual re-read.  Just a banger of a ghost story.  For some reason, I always like the trip through the ships at sea and the mining villages.

Surely You Can't be Serious: the True Story of Airplane  by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker

Fun read.  Airplane's a fine flick (though I like Kentucky Fried Movie and Top Secret both a little better).  Let's get some pictures, boys!

Democracy Awakening: Notes on the Story of America    by Heather Cox Richardson

I ran across Richardson first during the early days of the Pandemic.  Smart stuff.  Great writer who gives strong historical context to present-day goings on.  This one is a look at the rise of authoriatarian strongmen in our own history.  And what was done to combat it.  And while some history gets glossed over a little bit (LBJ hahahahaha, LBJ), it's still a solid look at authoritarianism working its roots into our culture over and over....

The Stupidest Angel   by Christopher Moore

A re-read.  As much as I enjoy the bulk of Moore's work, the early books set in Pine Cove are still favorites.  They're just goofy fun.  Prior to this, I'd read Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and the Island of the Sequined Love Nun, but it was this one that led me to Lamb, which is probably my favorite Moore book: the only one that I'd recommend to any and everybody.  

Angel is fairly well self-contained, though, and don't require reading those books to appreciate this one....Moore fills you in on the particulars pretty well.  And there are a couple really good gags that made me laugh out loud even a second time through the book.....

The View From the Bridge: Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood  by Nicholas Meyer

Not a bad read.  Enjoyed the stories of making Wrath of Khan and the Day After.  Looking up Time after Time and The Deceivers in the next little bit.i